Why Does Acupuncture Work?
Chinese practitioners and researchers have used these networks to map out acupuncture
points that when stimulated set off positive changes within the body that promote healing.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on centuries of mapping out the subtle underlying networks that comprise
the human body. There are systems that are obvious like the nervous system, the
Chinese Alternative Medicine
respiratory system, the endocrine system, the circulatory system and the lymphatic system.
These are the systems that western medicine concentrates on when making diagnoses and when prescribing
Beyond these systems are networks that form interrelationships between these systems that operate on a cellular
level within the body.
Chinese practitioners and researchers have used these networks to map out acupuncture points that when
stimulated set off positive changes within the body that promote healing.
During acupuncture, it has been shown by computer imaging of the brain that when the acupuncture point is
stimulated, an increase in endorphins occurs that then activates the immune and endocrine systems.
Various acupuncture points are chosen to achieve desired results such as relief of pain, reducing stress and
The needles used in acupuncture are fine high quality needles that are used only once. They are pre-sterilized
and disposable to help prevent possible infection at the insertion point. Those patients who are needle phobic can
ask the practitioner about needle alternatives such as acupressure.
Acupuncture works because it is a science that is based on bodily functions and the network of energetic
meridians that target specific points of the body. It is because acupuncture is based on the science of location of
meridians and what stimulating these points will achieve regarding the restoration of harmony that the results have
It is the consistency of the results that have given acupuncture the recognition it has received in medical
society today, both the Chinese and western medical societies.
Acupuncture works because the technique is not just to insert, but to stimulate, or manipulate based on the
desired effect. The acupuncturists are trained to know how long to leave the needle in (10 minutes to 1 hour) and
how to stimulate the point or manipulate it to achieve tonification, nourishment, to strengthen, drain or
Electrical stimulation may also be used during the acupuncture treatment. The current is low and usually battery
Treatment duration varies depending on the diagnosis and the severity of the condition. Some treatments are
effective after one or more treatments and some ailments can take months or even years to maintain the
One theory as to why acupuncture works was initiated in 1965 and is called the "Gate Theory of Pain". The theory
explains that there are mechanisms that perceive and transmit pain through the nervous system and that very
specific nerve fibers transmit pain to the spinal cord.
There are other nerve fibers that inhibit the transmission of pain. These two groups of nerve fibers meet at a
place called the substancia gelatinosa.
The gateway theory proposes that there is a balance of the pain fibers that inhibit the perception of pain and
the fibers that perceive pain.
These can be overridden through acupuncture because acupuncture excites the pain inhibitory nerve fibers for a
short duration of time thus blocking the perception of pain. The effects of acupuncture can last for months after
the needle is removed.
Another theory used to explain the effectiveness of acupuncture is that of "counter-pain". When the body
experiences pain in another region it does not perceive the pain in a different region. This may explain mild pain,
but is not very valid for severe pain or long-term pain.